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This is What you Need to Know About Sport Climbing Before the Olympics

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics has been postponed to 2021 in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. One of the new sports that will be introduced at this event is ‘Sport Climbing.’ Not many are aware of what this sport entails, so here is some enlightening information, ahead of the Olympics.

What is Sport Climbing?


Vitalii Matokha/Shutterstock: Sport climbing for the daring hearts

Sport climbing is essentially a type of rock climbing. A rope is attached to the climber to prevent them from falling, and there are permanent anchors. Bolts are placed in sequence along the climbing route, and the climber can use the rope and bolts to protect themselves from a fall.

Traditional climbing relies on removable protection devices rather than permanent anchors. Since it’s safer, sport climbing focuses more on the difficulty of the climbing maneuvers and the speed.

There are three disciplines: lead climbing, speed climbing, and bouldering. Lead climbing is all about teamwork between climbers. One moves up first and sets up the protective equipment. The other (known as the belayer) has to hold and stop the rope while the lead climber does his thing.

As the name suggests, speed climbing is all about who is the fastest. Lastly, bouldering is a form of climbing on rock formations or short walls without a harness. The Summer Olympics will see participants compete in all three disciplines.

How Are the Winners Decided?

UfaBizPhoto/Shutterstock: Climbers have to compete in multiple disciplines

At the Olympics, each climber will be required to participate in all three disciplines for an overall placement. The final rankings will be decided by multiplying the placement in each segment, with the athletes accomplishing the lowest scores winning medals. There will not be any recognition for the individual segments.

In the lead version, athletes will attempt to ascend as high as possible on a wall that’s over 15 m high within a specified time. Speed climbing will pit two climbers against each other on a 15 m wall while bouldering will see participants scale fixed routes on a 4.5 m wall within a specified time.

The Controversy Surrounding the Format


Dragon Images/Shutterstock: Sports climbing is serious business for athletes

The format of sport climbing in the Olympics has been met with some criticism. According to Climbing magazine, it is akin to making marathon runners compete in a 100-meter dash and vice-versa. Only time will tell how well-received it ends up being.

It’s going to be interesting to see the debut of sport climbing in the Olympics. It does, after all, take the challenge of scaling steep heights to a whole new level!

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